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Basil is one of the most popular herbal plants and makes numerous, especially Italian dishes perfect with Mediterranean pizzazz. It smells slightly of essential oils and, as a fresh herb, is also rich in vitamins. Since basil comes from sunny, warm regions, there are a few care details that need to be followed so that it can grow in local regions. You can find out how in these care instructions.
- Plant Family: Lamiaceae (Lamiaceae)
- Genus: Basil (Ocimum)
- Species: Basil (Ocimum basilicum)
- Trivial names: royal herb, basil, basil herb
- Origin: Northwest India
- Herbaceous, perennial or annual plant
- Growth height: from 20 centimeters to 60 centimeters
- Flowering period: June to September
- Multi-flowered white cymes
- Aromatic fragrance
- Contains essential oil
- Is cultivated as a spice, ornamental and medicinal plant
Ocimum, which found its way from the Mediterranean regions to colder Europe decades ago, presents itself as a healthy and, above all, tasty herbal plant. In addition, basil is a medicinal plant that has anti-inflammatory, appetite-stimulating and intestinal flora-regulating effects, among other things.
As a herbal plant from tropical regions, it makes various demands on the local climate zone. Especially when cultivating in pots, the basil usually does not feel comfortable. The care instructions describe in detail how your basil grows luxuriantly here and how it can be harvested.
In general, the herbal plant does not require extensive care or complicated care scenarios. All you have to do is pay attention to a few details, especially during cultivation, that are necessary for healthy growth, so that you can refine your dishes with the Mediterranean flair of fresh basil.
Due to its original origin, the perfect location must be sunny. Depending on the variety, the royal herb prefers a spot that is warmer than 20 degrees Celsius or cooler below 20 degrees Celsius. Wild basil and African blue, for example, do not mind cooler temperatures. From a temperature below 12 degrees Celsius, however, all basil varieties stop growing.
You should also note the following:
- avoid cold drafts
- more luxuriant growth is seen when planted in beds or in pots on balconies and terraces
- if the temperature falls below 10 degrees Celsius, the herbal plant must be brought into the warmth
- the basil does not tolerate rain with strong exposure to the sun
- indoors, the royal herb prefers a bright window seat, away from direct sunlight
- Locations above radiators are unsuitable during the heating season and provoke drying out
- The herb is advantageous in addition to tomatoes, as it protects them from numerous pests
- the Thai and Tulsi basil varieties are only suitable for cultivation indoors or in a greenhouse
The right soil conditions are particularly important for a healthy plant and full growth. A few prerequisites should be created here.Ocimum kilimanscharicum, red shrub basil
- loose soil quality that absorbs heat
- nutrient-rich, humus-rich and permeable soil
- fresh moist soil
- also like a bit sandy
- recommended pH: 6.5 to 7.2
It should be assumed that basil feels comfortable in special herbal soil. However, this is not the case, because herbal substrate does not meet the needs of the basil. A compost-based substrate is recommended. Other ingredients such as sand, perlite and expanded clay or a proportion of coconut fiber ensure better permeability in the substrate.
The royal herb should never be planted outdoors before the ice saints in mid-May. The outside temperature must also be constantly above 12 degrees Celsius. Minimum temperatures of around 20 degrees Celsius, which can usually be expected in mid/end of June, are ideal for many varieties.
If the basil has a location in the greenhouse with ideal temperature conditions, it can be planted or potted all year round. However, in winter the cultivation period is approximately doubled to between 80 and 100 days.
plants in the bed
Wild basil and the African Blue variety are ideal for planting in beds because they can cope better with colder temperature fluctuations in spring. All other varieties also do well outdoors when the temperatures are warmer.
This is how you proceed when planting in the bed:
- acclimate plants from the supermarket, greenhouse or house to fresh air first
- put the pot in a shady place for about five to six days
- then choose a sunny location and dig a planting hole there
- the planting hole should have a diameter of at least 30 centimeters and be twice as deep as the ball
- lay a two-centimeter high drainage of quartz sand or gravel on the bottom
- mix the excavated soil with compost or a suitable substrate
- insert the ocimum basilicum in the middle
- fill in the soil so that the root base is covered about two centimeters
- press down lightly and water generously
plants in the pot
If fresh basil is bought in a pot from the supermarket, it usually doesn't last longer than a few days. This is because it has had and is suffering from a stressful delivery under a variety of conditions. In addition, it is often the case that an exhausted substrate has been used and/or the plant pot is far too small for the plant.
If you bought basil in a pot, it is advisable to repot it immediately. Use a larger pot and above all a substrate, as already described in the corresponding section here. Some professional gardeners also recommend dividing the roots and then potting each part of the plant separately.
This will give the herbal plant more strength so that it can better withstand long transport routes, storage times and fluctuations in temperature and light. Proceed with potting as with planting. Make sure the pot has a hole in the bottom so excess water can escape.
The leaves of the Ocimum basilicum are very sensitive to moisture when the sun shines on them afterwards. A combustion process occurs, which leads to rapid drying out and dying of the leaves of the royal herbs. Accordingly, the plant should always be protected either from the hot midday sun or from rain and the leaves should be completely removed when watering. Spraying in the sun is also not advisable.
To avoid the hassle of watering, you can place the royal herb in a pot every five days in an immersion bath. Leave it in for about five minutes to allow the plant to soak. Then drain excess water and put the pot back in its usual place.
The best time to water is when the surface of the soil has dried slightly. You can quickly check this with the thumb test. If the surface of the earth can be dented by more than two centimetres, there is still sufficient moisture. If it's less than an inch, it's time to water.
Avoid the formation of waterlogging, as this promotes mold growth and accelerates wilting. Only use water at room temperature.
The basil is fertilized in the pot once a week. The most suitable is a natural-based organic liquid fertilizer. Outdoors, the need for fertilizer is reduced to around every six weeks. Use a fertilizer that has a high nitrogen content.Mentha piperita var citrata, basil mint
Pruning a basil is one of the most important care and harvest details. The fast-growing plant thins out rapidly, so pruning back to about five centimeters is recommended to achieve denser, more lush growth.
For annual plants, cut off all shoots with buds to prevent flowering, because after flowering, the Ocimum basilicum will stop growing. You can use what you cut off immediately, let it dry, or freeze it. For perennial plants, the winter phase slowly begins from October, in which they almost stop growing. Here is only cut for the harvest.
A lot can go wrong, especially during harvest, and the plant dies prematurely.
Therefore, proceed as follows:
- do not tear off individual leaves, but always a whole branch
- do not snap the branch, but use disinfected cutting tools such as knives or scissors
- the cut should generally be made about one to two centimeters above a pair of leaves so that branched shoots grow
If a luxuriant growth develops, a leaf can occasionally be cut off without causing any damage. But this should not be the rule.
As a rule, most basil varieties are annual plants that die off in September at the latest after flowering. Overwintering is not necessary here.
Perennial specimens are placed in the greenhouse or in heated rooms at the latest when kept outdoors at an outside temperature of 12 degrees Celsius. The optimal temperature during the winter months is between 15 degrees Celsius and 20 degrees Celsius. Place the Ocimum basilicum in a light spot and only water every few days when the soil has dried slightly.
If heating air lowers the humidity, it is advisable to spray the herbal plant regularly. Since it does not tolerate the rising heat from heating sources well in winter, it is advisable to place Styrofoam or something similar with insulating properties under the pot as heat protection.
So that you don't always have to buy a basil and have plenty on hand, you can easily increase your stock in different ways.
When the flower starts to fade in September, it's the perfect time to harvest mature seeds from it. You can sow it immediately or store it in a dry and dark place for a few months.
Sowing is basically possible all year round, but dry heating air does not represent perfect climatic conditions for sowing or young plants. It is optimal if you sow from April, when the temperatures allow keeping on the balcony or in the garden, since the Seeds grow better outdoors.
To do this, proceed as follows:
- fill a small pot or grow tray with nutrient-poor, well-drained substrate such as cactus soil
- tap the pot or grow tray lightly on a hard surface to set the soil
- Spread the seeds on the surface of the soil and press them in slightly
- the seeds are light germinators, so they are not covered with soil
- the soil is not poured, but sprayed evenly and kept constantly moist
- cover the seed with plastic wrap or a jar to create more moisture
- put the sowing in a bright place without direct sunlight
- optimal germination temperature: between 20 degrees Celsius and 24 degrees Celsius
- Germination period: between five and 14 days
- Repotting time: once two leaves have developed
As an alternative to sowing, you can also propagate the basil by cuttings. Since this method is usually not promising with a pot mother plant from the supermarket, it is advisable to take cuttings from a strong bed or balcony plant.Ocimum kilimanscharicum, red shrub basil
This is how a cutting becomes a new basil:
- cut off between five and ten shoots about four inches long and remove the leaves from the lower halves
- place the shoots in a water-filled, translucent container
- position the cuttings brightly, but not in the blazing midday sun
- change the water every two to three days
- once roots have formed after about a week, the cuttings can be planted together in the substrate
- keep the substrate constantly moist, but not too wet
- optimum temperature: between 20 degrees Celsius and 24 degrees Celsius
- Best time for propagation: April
Basil is sensitive to diseases and often suffers primarily from specific viral and fungal diseases.
Lucerne Mosaic Virus
The alfalfa mosaic virus triggers yellowing of the leaf tips, yellow spots and crooked plants in basil. This occurs in most cases when kept indoors and when there is a heavy aphid infestation.
A promising control method is not yet known, which is why the basil must be disposed of immediately when this disease occurs.
Septoria disease is a fungal infection. It usually occurs in wet weather and causes small, continuously spreading spots on the leaves from around June. There are no known special treatments against Septoria, so this fungal disease irrevocably leads to the death of the basil.
But you can act preventively by regularly pruning, not making the basil too dark and not providing too much nitrogen fertilizer. A rain-protected location also prevents fungal infestation.
Fusarium oxysporum, as Fusarium wilt is known professionally, is a fungal infection that primarily affects older plants and is common in greenhouse and outdoor cultivation. A few leaves will wilt at first, before the wilting process accelerates and the entire plant dies.
Here, too, there is little that can be done to remedy the situation. Store the Ocimum basilicum between 18 degrees Celsius and 20 degrees Celsius, as warm temperatures favor Fusarium wilt. Cut back the kitchen herb heavily and plant it in fresh substrate. Only use a disinfected pot and disinfected cutting tool. The chances of survival are still slim, but worth a try.
A real problem can be leaf-eating pests, which like to use Ocimum basilicum as a food source, especially when kept outdoors.
The crawling pests are mainly the caterpillars of the dock owl (Acronycta rumicis). They gradually eat away the leaves so far that sometimes only the main leaf vein remains.
As a rule, it is usually sufficient to hose down the basil under high water pressure. The caterpillars fall off the leaves and can be collected on the ground. Special so-called glue rings can be attached to the shoots, to which the caterpillars stick when trying to cross and either die there or become food for birds themselves.
Pest control sprays containing pyrethrine or pyrethrum are very effective, but are also harmful to human health if ingested. After treatment, the plant must be completely pruned back to develop new shoots that are again suitable for consumption.
Common Meadow Bugs
The Lygus pratensis bug sucks its food from the basil leaf, depriving it of all the basic nutrients it needs, resulting in brown spots, stunted shoots and eventual death.
You can make an effective household remedy yourself with rhubarb. Rhubarb contains sennosides and oxalic acid, which repel bugs.
Get about 50 grams of dried rhubarb leaves, chop them up and soak them in hot water for about 12 hours. Pour off the liquid and catch the rhubarb leftovers in a sieve. Now fill the brew in a spray bottle and spray the basil with it. In a few days the plant should be cleared of plants.
Snails are often a problem, especially in vegetable and herb gardens. You can lure them away from your royal herb with special attractants, which are available in specialist shops, or kill the pests with slug pellets.
Spider mite infestation is not uncommon, especially during the winter months, when the heating air ensures a dry room climate. They usually settle on the undersides of the leaves and can be identified at the latest when white cobweb-like carpets form.
Rinse the king herb well and seal it in an airtight plastic bag for two to three days. This should solve the spider mite problem.
There are two subspecies of Ocimum basilicum, with "L. subsp. basil", is the edible royal herb found in Europe. The Ocimum basilicum subsp. minimum L is cultivated as an ornamental plant.
The Ocimum basilicum "L. subsp. basil" has numerous varieties. This is a classic among the varieties Genovese basil which is available almost everywhere and is preferred in Italian cuisine.
the sort cinnamon possesses a cinnamon aroma while Lemon is often used as lemon basil for fish dishes.
Other well-known varieties include thai and Tulsi basil, Wild Basil such as African Blue.